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My Spring Folly

When in doubt, cast on socks — that's my motto. I have a friend who casts on another Ishbel when she's unsure of what project to start next but for me it's always been socks. Over the years I've developed my vanilla sock, as you undoubtedly have too, that gives me a perfectly fitting pair of socks every time. So imagine my surprise when I found myself straying from my usual sock recipe. A spring folly indeed!

I picked up these three skeins of yarn at the knitting retreat I went to in April this year. They're all 50 g skeins of sock yarn — two commercially dyed in apple green, one hand dyed in wonderful spring colors. A 50 g skein on its own wouldn't be enough for a pair of socks but with contrasting toes, heels, and cuffs? Perfect!

You wouldn't think pink and green go well together but they do! And there's actually a bit of color theory behind the 'why'.

Conventional color wisdom has it that colors that lie opposite to one another on the wheel—or complementary colors—are especially pleasing together.

A combination of two complementary colors may be perceived as soothing or balanced, since it simultaneously stimulates different parts of the eye.

Now here comes the first part of the folly. I'm always been a devout fan of the Turkish Cast-on for toes but this time I wanted to branch out and use Aggie's Simple Cast-on. (It just might be my new favorite. I'm well on my way of converting...) It doesn't beat the simplicity of Turkish Cast-on but I do love the stability and pure ingeniousness. The only drawback I can think of is that because you have to flip the last stitch between needles, Aggie's Simple Cast-on doesn't work if you want to cast on two socks at the same time on the same needle.

The fun, surprising, and sometimes annoying thing about hand-dyed yarns is that you don't know how the colors will behave until you start knitting. Sometimes they stripe, sometimes they flash and pool, sometimes they do both. In this case the yarn started producing pretty even one-row stripes. A little bit of green flashes here and there but mostly stripes in a way that pleased me to no end... and I didn't want to interrupt them. Folly the second: nix gusset increases. Folly the third: afterthought heel!

I've been doing the Widdershins Revisited style heel on my socks ever since I learnt it. The only time I've knit socks with another kind of heel was when using someone else's pattern — and sometimes even then I've substituted the pattern heel with my favorite construction. Going with an afterthought heel is completely new territory for me. Snipping a thread in your sock to create a hole for your heel? Not just new territory, new TERROR.

Unfortunately I was so busy with my new-found terror that I forgot to take pictures of the heel knitting itself! I followed Louise Tilbrook's excellent blog post for afterthought heel placement, then the instructions from the Knit Better Socks blog to work a short-row mini gusset before starting heel decreases. The heel itself was done like a wedge toe with slanting decreases on either edge of the heel on both sides, with the last few stitches grafted together using Kitchener stitch when I reached the same number of stitches I had at the toe cast-on.

The heel looks oddly pointy when not on but once the socks are on my feet, the afterthought heel fit absolutely wonderfully. The short-row mini gusset ensures there is no pulling or tightness across the instep. The only thing I'm not a fan of are the knobbly bits at the sides just under the heel — but that might just be my poor Kitchenering skills.

After this much adventure you'd think I'd go back to my tried and true, trusted vanilla sock recipe? Nope, I've already cast on another folly. For this pair I might try to do a rounder heel to see if the knobs go away.


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My Spring Folly

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Susanna Winter is a knitwear designer, creating timeless and elegant pieces with clean lines. She has been knitting for over 20 years, knit blogging since 2007, and designing knitting patterns professionally since 2016.

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